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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Transcript of DOJ "Operation Avalanche" child porn a

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Wed, 08 Aug 2001 17:49:23 -0400
To:             	politech@politechbot.com
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: Transcript of DOJ "Operation Avalanche" child porn announcement
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

News coverage:

Child porn conviction brings life sentence
Aug. 8, 2001 05:29 ET

Child porn brings life term
Aug. 8, 2001 04:41 ET

U.S. Govt Probe Smashes Online Child Porn Ring
Aug. 8, 2001 15:35 ET


 From this morning...

      ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Let me thank all of you for coming today,
good morning.

      As we speak here together, more than 125,000 Department of
employees are working to provide a safe, free, just America. In 
neighborhoods and communities across the country, the men and women of
the Justice Department are securing our borders, investigating and
prosecuting offenders who violate our laws, and ensuring that all our
citizens can participate in the full measure of our nation's

      All of this work is important, but none is more important than
effort we undertake to provide a safe America for our children.

      Today we are announcing the results of Operation Avalanche, a
initiative that combines the investigative resources of the department
of justice, the Dallas Police Department, and the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service. More than merely another successfully prosecuted
case, Operation Avalanche stands as a model of federal, state, and
local cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and -- perhaps
most importantly -- prevention of the sexual exploitation of children.

      Regrettably, the work of the Department of Justice to provide a
America for children now extends well beyond the physical world into
the electronic universe of cyberspace. Few would disagree that the
World Wide Web offers unparalleled educational and recreational
opportunities for our young people, but there are back alleys and dark
corners of the Internet where our children can be exposed to
inappropriate material or even become susceptible to offenders who
view them as sexual objects. These offenders leverage the technology
and anonymity of the Internet to trade and produce child pornography,
explore their sexual interest in children, and to identify youth
susceptible to manipulation and exploitation.

      Large numbers of young people are encountering sexual
they did not want, they encounter sexual material they did not seek,
and in the most serious cases, are targeted by offenders seeking
children for sex.

      Today's Internet has also become the new marketplace for child
pornography. In their efforts to stop the electronic proliferation of
these obscene materials, our law enforcement officers are often out-
gunned and out-teched by the profit-driven purveyors of child

      To help make the Internet a safe place for children to play and
learn, the department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention has been working to build a national network of state and
local law enforcement agencies to respond to child pornography and
cyber enticement offenses. The cornerstone of our efforts is the
National Center's cyber tip line, which encourages citizens to report
suspicious online activity to law enforcement. Under the Internet
Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, we are providing training,
equipment and funding to nearly 60 city, county and state law
enforcement agencies. These agencies coordinate the efforts of more
than 140 law enforcement agencies in 35 different states. In just over
two years, they have arrested more than 500 offenders, seized more
than 900 computers, and reached thousands of children, teenagers and
parents with information about safe Internet practices.

      This successful coordination of all levels of law enforcement
on the ongoing work of the Department of Justice, in addition to other
federal agencies, in battling child pornography. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation's Innocent Images National Initiative is a nation-wide
effort to investigate those who traffic in child pornography and those
who travel to commit sexual offenses against children. The United
States Customs Service battles international child pornography, much
of which originates in the United States. In addition, the legal
experts in the department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section
provide innovative, technology-based training for investigators on the
federal, state and local levels.

      Today we are announcing the results of Operation Avalanche, a
of its kind initiative involving unprecedented cooperation between
local, state and federal law enforcement. Operation Avalanche combined
the investigative resources of the Internet Crimes Against Children
Task Force Program and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Co-managed
by the Dallas Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service, and coordinated through the ICAC Task Force Program, this
operation offers a blueprint of how federal, state and local law
enforcement agencies can work together to protect children in

      In a few minutes, Chief Inspector Ken Weaver will provide you
some specific details of this initiative. But before he does, I would
like to recognize the co-managers of this investigation, Lieutenant
Bill Walsh (sp) of the Dallas Police Department, Postal Inspector Ray
Smith (sp), and to thank them for their hard work and their
leadership. In addition, investigators worked closely with attorneys
from the Department of Justice's Criminal Division Child Exploitation
and Obscenity Section. They provided critical legal guidance at the
undercover design stage and throughout the operation of this
particular effort. We thank them as well for their dedication and
their expertise.

      Now, understandably, today's announcement may alarm some
      parents, but 
I want to caution those with children who use the Internet not to
immediately yank the cord from the family computer. The Department of
Justice is not saying that you should deprive your children of the
educational and recreational opportunities of the Internet. In this,
as in so many other areas, exercising caution is the best course.
Parents may want to talk with their children about possible dangers
online, set out rules for their online activities, and encourage
children to tell parents when they become alarmed or disturbed by
something that is seen online which is inappropriate.

      Today's announcement emphasizes the resolve of the Department of
Justice to make sure that cyberspace does not become a fire free -- or
a free fire zone to target children. It notices that there are no free
rides on the Information Highway for traffickers or child pornography.
To those in the sex industry who illegally prey on America's
innocents, the Department of Justice will use every resource available
to identity, investigate and prosecute those who violate the law to
the fullest extent of the law. With the help and cooperation of
parents, we will not only identify and prosecute those who seek to
victimize children in cyberspace, but we will prevent future children
from becoming victims as well.

      It's now my pleasure to introduce Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth
Weaver, to provide the details on Operation Avalanche.

      I want to thank all of you for your concern and your
      participation in 
this event as I call upon Chief Inspector Weaver. Chief?

      MR. WEAVER: Thank you, Attorney General Ashcroft, and good

      Sexual abuse and exploitation results in physical and emotional
suffering, ruined lives, and shattered dreams. The use of the mail to
traffic in child pornography continues to be a tragic problem in our
society. Of even greater concern, more and more child molesters and
child pornographers are turning to cyberspace to seek out potential
victims, communicate with others, and locate sources of child

      This morning I would like to announce the results of a two-year-
undercover investigation into this murky world. The multi-agency
effort was called Operation Avalanche. It started out with the
shutdown of the largest known commercial child pornography enterprise
in the history of the United States and continued with the arrest of
100 individuals for trafficking of child pornography through the mail
and via the Internet.

      In early 1999, postal inspectors uncovered a Fort Worth company
called Landslide Productions, Incorporated. Landslide advertised and
conspired to distribute child pornography, primarily through the
subscription of Internet websites. The names of the sites will give
you a feel for their content.

      Use of the Internet indicates it truly is a World Wide Web.
the course of this investigation, the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children received over 250 complaints against this company
from American citizens and from individuals around the world. Those
complaints were forwarded on to investigators.

      Landslide took in as much as $1.4 million in a one-month period.
was clearly a multi-million-dollar enterprise. The vast majority of
this money was from subscriptions to the child pornography websites.
As you can see from this e-mail message, more than $98,000 was
transferred to one webmaster for just one month's business. An
operation of this magnitude was previously unheard of in the United

      The investigation was worked in partnership with the Dallas
Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and revealed
that Landslide customers could subscribe to child pornography websites
through a Fort Worth post office box or via the Internet.

      In September 1999, the business was shut down when a
task force served federal search warrants obtained by postal
inspectors on Landslide's office building and the residence of
Landslide owners Thomas and Janice Reedy. The Reedys were living very
well, enjoying a spacious home, driving highly priced automobiles, and
living a grand lifestyle at the expense of children who were sexually

      An 89-count federal indictment was returned against the Reedys
April of 2000. Five international webmasters were also indicted.
Efforts continue to locate and bring to justice the international co-

      Following a jury trial in December of 2000, the Reedys were
as charged. And just this past Monday, Thomas Reedy was sentenced to
life in prison and Janice Reedy was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
And to be technically correct on this, Mr. Reedy was sentenced to 15
years for each of the 89 counts, which totaled 1,335 years, to be
served consecutively.

      But putting Landslide out of business was not enough. Those who
created the demand for this child pornography, the consumers, were
still out there. The consumer or user of child pornography is no less
responsible for sexual exploitation of children than is the producer
or distributor. And it has been our experience that many of the
consumers are also child molesters.

      Postal inspectors nationwide combined forces with the 30
funded task forces located throughout the United States and launched
an aggressive, proactive undercover operation targeting some of the
most egregious offenders identified through intelligence gained from
this investigation. Over the last year, postal inspectors and task
force investigators conducted 144 searches in 37 different states. The
vast majority of these search warrants were executed immediately
following controlled deliveries of child pornography ordered by the
suspects. Prosecution of these cases -- (audio break) -- have been
charged so far, and we expect many more arrests in the near future.

      Let me give you an example of what we encountered in some of the
cases. We searched the home of a 36-year old man in North Carolina.
This man had worked as a computer consultant. In his home, Postal
inspectors and investigators from the North Carolina task force found
a collection of videotapes produced by this individual depicting the
sexual abuse of a number of young girls. One of these girls was only
four years old. The offender would record some of his illicit
activities with a pin-hole camera hidden in a bedroom smoke detector.
The camera was connected to both a VCR and a computer. Just yesterday,
the man was sentenced to 17-1/2 years in federal prison, and
additional state charges are pending.

      It's only through investigations such as Operation Avalanche,
law enforcement agencies work together at all levels -- federal, state
and local -- that we can have an impact on the staggering effects of
child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children in this
country. We are deeply indebted to the Department of Justice, the
United States Attorneys, as well as state and local prosecutors for
their efforts to prosecute the individuals we identify. We also owe a
special debt of gratitude to the Dallas Police Department Task Force.
Without their commitment and coordination of this effort, we would not
have been able to achieve the results being reported to you today.

      And finally, I would also like to thank Attorney General
      Ashcroft for 
his personal involvement in this effort.

      Thank you very much.

      STAFF: Thank you.

      The chief inspector and the attorney general will now take a few
your questions, and we would like to keep them related to Operation
Avalanche and the child pornography effort.


      Q Mr. Weaver, can you tell us, in addition to these arrests that
you've already made, how many people are you still investigating
because of this website, and how likely is this operation to continue
to grow?

      MR. WEAVER: The operation will continue to grow. There were
thousands of subscribers to the websites. And as I mentioned, we took
the most egregious -- those individuals who had a clear predisposition
to violate the law and went after them. But there will be many more
arrests in this operation.

      Q Yes, these 100 people that were arrested, were they all
with Landslide? Were they subscribers or were they subscribers to
other places?

      MR. WEAVER: They were subscribers to Landslide.

      Yes, ma'am?

      Q Can you talk at all about what efforts are being made to
      locate and 
help some of the children that were obviously used, abused on these
child porn sites and the people who are responsible for using them?

      MR. WEAVER: That's very important. And the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children devotes a great deal of their time in
helping children and looking after the abused children. We also pay
particular attention to this. Since 1997, we've tracked that of
100,000 investigations or arrests that we've conducted, we've saved
over -- and we like to use that term, "saved" or "rescued" -- over 400
children from abuse.

      Yes, sir?

      Q Two of the facts that you presented here put together would
      seem to 
be very alarming to parents. If you determine that roughly a million
and a half dollars a month was coming in from people who would pay
money to view pornography, and you went on to find out -- and you've
reported this before, and the FBI has reported it before -- that you
found the link between consumers of child pornography and child
molestation in the real world, well, a million-four-a-month would
suggest that there'd be -- what? -- how many potential child molesters
out there? Can you guesstimate, quantify the relationship between what
you've discovered here in terms of the hunger for pornography
involving children and the potential for maybe -- you termed it
"unheard of dollar" -- how about unheard of numbers of child
pornographers. Is that a concern?

      MR. WEAVER: It is a concern, and that's why we're aggressively
pursuing it, not only our agency, but Customs, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. And as the attorney general mentioned, it's got to be a
coordinated effort, even with local law enforcement areas. So it is
very important.

      How many is out there? I don't know.

      Q Can I ask follow-up?

      MR. WEAVER: Sure.

      Q You've got children who are victimized by appearing, being
to appear and having secret pictures taken, and whatever, to go into
these websites and into the videos and the pictures I presume that are
mailed out. You've got children victimized by stumbling into this
stuff on the Internet and viewing it and that kind of trauma. And then
you've got children who are actually molested in the real world. Can
you -- is there any way to quantify which is the bigger problem, to
put numbers to those three categories of danger to the society?

      MR. WEAVER: I know there are degrees of it, but I look at it all
the same problem.

      The exploitation of children is vicious, in and of itself. And I
heard at one point in my career somebody mention that it was a
victimless crime. It's not. The children are victimized, and just the
appearance of the children is -- leaves scars for life on these

      Yes, sir?

      Q About how many children were involved in this operation in
      terms of 
Landslide's involvement? And how many parents of these children were
included in the 100 of those who were arrested?

      MR. WEAVER: I don't have those numbers available. Possibly one
      of the 
gentlemen in the back may have those numbers. They can furnish them to
you. I don't know.

      Yes, ma'am?

      Q The site itself had something like 250,000 subscribers -- (off
mike). Does that mean that it's possible to go after the -- you don't
have the resources to track down all of them?

      MR. WEAVER: Well, that may be part of it, but you've got to
understand that a good part of these were also foreign-originating. So
a lot of the subscribers or the subscriptions were from other
countries. And many of them -- it wasn't clear whether they were
interested in child pornography or adult pornography, and many of
those were just interested in adult.

      We focused on those that clearly demonstrated that they were
interested in child pornography, in the sexual exploitation of

      Yes, ma'am?

      Q Yes. Given that the Reedys were the masterminds of this
operation, General Ashcroft, are you satisfied with the prosecution
and the sentencing that they received on Monday?

      ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Well, first of all, let me just say that I'm
we were able to apprehend them, and I think the sentences reflect the
seriousness with which these offenses have to be understood.

      On the other hand, let me say that I did not -- was not a
in the trial and was not familiar with all of the facts and details.
It was pretty clear, though, that a sentence for 1,335 years against
Mr. Reedy is not to be taken lightly, and nor would a sentence for 14
years against his spouse be taken lightly.

      I think what is clear is that we cannot take this major
      challenge to 
the safety and security of our children lightly, and for that reason,
we are reaching out to cooperate with state and local authorities, and
are very pleased to commend the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for its
outstanding work in collaboration with the Dallas Police Department.
When you look at that one poster over there, and it says one out of
every five children last year was invited into inappropriate sexual
activity on the Internet or encountered inappropriate sexual material
on the Internet, that says that there are very high levels of risk for
a person like me, with a 3-year-old grandson who lives in a house
which is the equivalent of a computer lab -- his father and mother are
both very active users of the computer -- it sends a signal to me.

      And I would hope that one of the messages that we send clearly
is that we encourage parents to be actively involved in their
children's participation in any Internet activity, because this
elevates the capacity of parents to be a part of making sure that
their children are unmolested and unassaulted with this kind of
material and in activities that would be seriously harmful, so that
from my perspective, the department is -- wants the concern and
understanding about the nature of this problem to be well understood
by people all around the country and to understand that far too many
children -- I mean, any children being assaulted this way -- but this
is a very pervasive problem in our culture, and we need to be alert to

      Q Are you satisfied that existing laws are adequate and
and that the existing penalties in the statutes are also sufficient,
or, for example, in the case of subscribers, are there heavy

      MR. WEAVER: Well, since the legislation was passed in 1990, the
possession of child pornographer carries a penalty of five years -- up
to five years in prison. The distribution and proliferation of it
carries a much stiffer penalty.

      But judging from the sentences that are being handed out, in
      many of 
these cases, I would say that yes, we are satisfied.

      Q What countries are the five international webmasters from? And
is the status of the efforts to get them to the United States?

      MR. WEAVER: I believe -- I know two of the countries, and there
be multiple webmasters in one of them -- but Indonesia and Russia. And
we have been working -- our Forth Worth-based operation has been
working intently with Customs to locate those individuals and bring
about some extradition. But we also have contacted our counterparts
around the world and worked with Interpol to try to identify and
locate them.

      Q (Off mike) -- undercover aspects of this operation, was the
taken down -- (off mike) -- in the way that aspects of this operation,
was the website taken down -- (off mike) -- make any difference in the
way that -- (off mike)? How did that work?

      MR. WEAVER: Well, the whole operation was worked out with the
Department of Justice, and we come up with a clear investigative plan,
which did involve undercover inspectors making contact with
individuals. I'm not going to go into the details of the
investigations or the operation. We still have ongoing investigations
that we have to conclude out there.

      Q (Off mike.)

      MR. WEAVER: It was operational.

      STAFF: We'll take one last question.

      Q For all of the progress that you say you've made in this
is this only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's out there?

      MR. WEAVER: It may be the tip of the iceberg. But I think the
of this investigation should send a clear message that it's taken very
seriously, and hopefully it's going to have a dramatic impact on those
people who want to delve into this very vicious crime.

      STAFF: Thank you very much, Chief. And thank you, Attorney


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